On a hot summer’s day, August 29, 1951, to be exact, in Wesson, AR, a Great Man arrived. The late Bennie Davis and Mae Bethel Stephens-Davis welcomed their handsome baby boy and named him Lee Dell. Some called him Lee, close family and friends affectionately called him “Pooh Shame” due to his bashfulness as a child, but many may have known him simply as the “Boss Man.”
He was the first of two children. He shared a very close bond with his first best friend, his sister Lenora. She was his “Mack.” Their relationship was so strong and so close that they worked together every day, side by side, for 37 years. It was nothing that they would not do for one another. She loved her brother and he loved his sister. Their bond was unbreakable.
Lee Dell united with Beulah Grove Baptist Church (Wesson, AR) under the pastoral leadership of Rev. L.A. Austin. He later joined El Bethel Missionary Baptist Church under Rev. James Reynolds. Years later, Lee Dell was ordained as a deacon under the leadership of Rev. Roy C. Aaron, Jr.
He also served as Choir President, President of the Brotherhood, and Sunday School Teacher.
Lee Dell attended Rosenwald School in Junction City, AR from 1st-11th grade. He completed his senior year at Junction City High School. He was a member of the Rosenwald and JCHS basketball team. Lee Dell was a great basketball player and often shared stories of his days playing for the Tigers and Dragons. After high school, he joined the US Army Reserves, where he served one weekend per month, two weeks per year for six years. He also attended Oil Belt Votech in El Dorado, AR where he received a certificate in auto mechanics.
He was employed by Reed’s Body Shop, Laney’s Body Shop, and Darden’s Body Shop. His very first paid paint job was given to him by his Uncle Duke (aka Uncle Ducat).
Although he felt he didn’t do a very good job on Uncle Duke’s truck, he was still paid for completing the job. Lee Dell worked very hard to perfect his craft. The second time he painted his uncle’s truck, it was painted to perfection.
Lee Dell worked long and hard visualizing that one day his dream to become an entrepreneur would come to fruition; and in 1975, Davis Body Shop opened. He was an outstanding auto body repairman and mechanic, restoring wrecked vehicles to look like new. His business motto was “Let’s Straighten It Out.” This not only applied to his professional life but also his personal life. If there were any issues or challenges, you could always count on Lee Dell to “Straighten It Out.” Lee Dell took pride in his work and when explaining how to properly sand a vehicle, he would use the catchy phrase “If it’s slick, it ain’t gone stick!” He hired one of his good friends Billy “Stone” Hunter and they worked together for 40 years masking, sanding, repairing, and painting vehicles for customers near and far. Lee Dell was a lover of vehicles as evidenced by the number of cars, trucks, vans, and jeeps that he owned….and you would never ever see him driving a dirty vehicle. Davis Body Shop remained in business for 43 years.
Not only did Lee Dell love repairing/painting automobiles, but he also loved softball. In the late ’70s, Davis Body Shop softball team was formed. The name eventually changed to The Body Men. Although there were many men that played with the Body Men, there were several that came straight out of Wesson. They were Jimmy Lee Franklin, Thomas Moore, Maurice Moore, Billy Hunter, Perry Franklin, El Roy Davis. Sr. his best friend the late Robert Loggins, AKA "Truck" and the late Tony Cole. The Body Men traveled to many cities to play softball. When going up to bat, Lee Dell would tell his teammates “Stick, Stay, Lay, and Play…All Day.” Sometimes tournaments would last until the early hours of the morning. They won many trophies and were extremely competitive. It was never a dull moment watching them play. They kept the game fun and exciting. The Body Men remained active for over 30 years.
In 1969, Lee Dell spotted this gorgeous, sweet, caramel toned girl from Three Creeks, AR. He was smitten by her beauty. Debra Ann Crayton was her name, but he so eloquently called her Ann. He adored her, and she thought that he was so handsome.
After a long courtship, he asked the late Mr. and Mrs. Joe Beasley for their granddaughter’s hand in marriage.
They said yes! Plans were made and on November 23rd, 1972 (Thanksgiving Day), Lee Dell and Ann united in Holy Matrimony.
They were blessed with three wonderful children: Mori, KeKe, and Chris. They loved to travel with their children, driving North, South, East, and West. He worked hard to ensure that his children could see as much of the United States as possible. His desire was to see them do well in life. He loved his children, but his grandsons DJ, Jalen, Jordan, and Donovan had his heart. He was a very supportive grandfather and he supported his boys in all of their extracurricular activities. He provided his children and grandchildren with essential tools needed that they will carry with them throughout their life’s journey. Summer vacations were common in the Davis household.
However, the most memorable summer trips were traveling to West Memphis, AR, Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI to visit family. The family was extremely important to Lee Dell, and he made sure that he kept in contact with all of them near and far. He was the backbone of the Davis-Godfrey Family Reunion, always encouraging family members to attend. You instantly knew he was in the building when you heard the infectious laugh that he possessed. He always smiled, had a rhyme to accompany his conversations, and told jokes that kept you laughing for hours. Lee Dell was full of life, and there was never a boring moment when he was around.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Leroy Davis.
Lee Dell was a family man, businessman, entrepreneur, community supporter, and friend to many. His passion for auto body repair resonated throughout Union County and surrounding areas for 43 years. He will be remembered not only for his work, but also for the strength he possessed, the support he provided, and the unconditional love he shared. He will forever be known as the “Boss Man.”
Cherishing his memories are his beloved wife of 47 years Debra Davis, Three Creeks, AR; two daughters, Shaymoria Davis, Three Creeks, AR, and LaKeitha Davis, El Dorado, AR; one son, Christopher Davis, Wesson, AR; four grandsons: De’Javeon Brown, Jalen Davis, and Jordan Banks, Three Creeks, AR, and Donovan Davis, Shreveport, LA; his sister, Lenora (James) McElroy, El Dorado, AR; two nieces Semekia (Lamonte) Amerison, El Dorado, AR, and Barbara Davis Whiteplains, Maryland; two nephews Leroy Davis, Jr and Ricky Davis, El Dorado, AR and his bonus son, Maurice (Big Man) Moore, Jr.; aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends, and communities that loved him dearly.
Graveside services entrusted to Sims Mortuary. Sign the guestbook at www.simsmortuary.comTo order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lee Dell Davis, please visit our flower store.